(Beta vulgaris var. crassa)
An heirloom salad plant from the 1840s with attractive burgundy foliage that makes a focal point in the garden. A colourful and tasty addition to salads and has a sweet and flavourful root.
Well-drained soil. Young beets need plenty of water to encourage a tender, larger root. In hot, dry conditions the root may become stringy and tough. Fertilise with Seasol and Power Feed in spring, summer and autumn. Check development of the beetroot by gently probing the earth at the base of the plant to see how large the beetroot has grown.
Beetroot bulbs can be served raw. Salads made with raw grated beetroot bleed less than salads made with cooked beetroot. The golden cultivars do not bleed crimson juices all over chopping boards, hands and dishes as the ruby-red ones do. Whole small beetroots can be boiled for about 20mins to become tender. Don’t bother cutting larger beetroots into smaller pieces to boil as they will bleed excessively. Peel, coarsely grate and sauté beetroot in butter, stirring it for about 5 minutes over medium heat, then season with salt and pepper and serve. Beetroot seems to have greater intensity of flavour when it is baked, but it does take a while – even up to 90 minutes in a 180 degree Celsius oven, for medium-sized whole beetroots. The leaves are also edible but require thorough washing before being eaten. They are not particularly appetising raw unless very tiny. However, they are fantastic when braised, steamed or sautéed.
|Harvest||3-4 months after planting. Harvest when the root is the desirable size for the recipe you will be using. Young beets and young leaves are delicious. Beetroot can be harvested when golf-ball sized. Harvest each alternate beetroot so that those remaining can continue to grow into larger bulbs. You can take several leaves from a growing plant for a quick sauté without pulling the bulb. Just be sure to leave the central growing leaves intact and cut from the outside of the plant. When harvesting the leaves, use scissors so as not to dislodge the plant and cut them without too much stalk, as the stalk remains tough and mostly inedible.|
|Position||Grow in full sun to partial shade. Suitable for all climates, but is sensitive to cold.|
|Lifespan||Biennial grown as an annual.|